Monday, August 23, 2004

The Flame Room

Back in the day before the Internet was readily available to the herd, the only thing out there were Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs). The BBS concept was quite popular in our area. A few were multi-user that had several roll-over lines that you could dial in on. Yeah, dial up. Does anyone remember 2400 baud modems? Remember how excited you were when you finally got a 14.4?

The draw of a single line BBS were the message boards. They were the predecessors of our current message boards, so you can imagine how they worked. People would dial in, post messages, then reply. A dialog was created. Multi-line BBSs were cool though because you had a lot more options: chat rooms, email, multi-player games. This was in a time when everything was text based. But still very popular on the multi-line BBSs were the message boards. My favorite BBS had a zillion message boards, all organized into categories. You could discuss anything there. Need a recipe? Post and ask for one. Want to discuss politics, world affairs...anything and the opportunity was there. One of my favorite haunts was The Flame Room. You see the other boards were all moderated and no personal attacks and no cussing was allowed (unless it was in the adult area). In The Flame Room, however, no holds were barred. There was even a disclaimer when you entered warning that it could get ugly and was not for the thin-skinned or faint of heart. As you can imagine, things could get really nasty because afterall, people were flaming at eachother. But every once in a while there were some fascinating serious discussions. Of course topics like abortion and religion were guaranteed hot buttons. But there were other things I enjoyed. Political discussions, questions of ethics. I loved them all.

The reason that I bring all of this up is because there was a kid I used to know from those days who blogs now and I read him regularly. I say kid though he's now a grown man, but in my mind he will always be a kid because that's what he was when I knew him - 16, 17, 18, that age range. That's not derogatory at all, because this kid was/is brilliant. He's brilliant about a lot of things. Computers, of course. Many of the kids online in those days were. But this kid was different. He knew EVERYTHING about many different kinds of machines. If you had a technical problem, he was the one to go to. But he also had amazing opinions about stuff that kids his age weren't concerned with - politics, etc. He was a master of debate. And the best thing was that even if you disagreed vehemently with him in The Flame Room, he was still cool in real life AND in other areas of the BBS, other discussions. While I don't know for sure if he held a grudge, he never let it show in his writing. That's amazing control, especially when you factor in his age at the time.

There was one thing I learned from him that I still remember to this day. When you are in a discussion/debate with someone, if you can get them so flustered and off their argument that they resort to cussing you out, you win by default. It's not worth the trouble even replying anymore. Don't get me wrong; he could flame and cuss with the best of them. In fact, he could reduce you to tears if he wanted to, but I think that took all the fun out of it for him and he reserved those gems for the truly stupid. There was a discussion on his blog that brought back those old school days this past week. He didn't start it really. He just posted about something that was on his mind. I commented. Then this young girl comes in. I can only assume she's young based on her many previous comments on his posts, no matter how serious or flippant, that always denigrated into sexual innuendo. I probably could have enjoyed an intelligent discussion with her except for a couple of things. The first was that I asked a simple question and she refused to answer. When I finally pointed out that she refused to answer, she came back with something completely inane and unreasonable. That's not what I was aiming for. I was honestly interested in her suggestions. I decided tonight not to waste time with her anymore when she called me a stupid bitch. A bitch I may be, stupid I am not. And actually, when I was going back over the discussion prior to posting this I noticed she called me a fucking cunt previously, though I had missed that the first time through. My bad.

I'll write a few excerpts here. You probably don't agree with my line of thinking, but I don't think that's the point of my post. In a nutshell, he posted about women in Islamic countries that have been raped and then persecuted/prosecuted if they tried to present their side of the story. The writer questioned why we can't go over and do something about it. An excerpt of comments as follows:

Her: there's no oil there. at least i dont think so. last i heard there was some actionnear the caspian sea so maybe iran will be next

Me: You know, the oil argument always gets me. What exactly is so wrong with protecting the interests of the US? What is wrong with making sure the American people have access to petroleum? The left doesn't want us to drill on our own land (Alaska anyone?) and yet everyone bitches when gas prices go sky high. You can't have it both ways. It always amazes me.

Her: good argument. maybe the USA should invade canada next if we don't give you all the fucking oil you need. after all, youre protecting your interests!

The writer of the blog started a new post about oil. Comments as follows:
Me: (Highly edited because it was redundant)Just what is so wrong with protecting the interests of the US? It's not just the military that uses petroleum based products. Why exactly is it so bad for our leaders to do everything they can to preserve our wayof life? I like my gas as cheap as possible. I like safe tires on the car my family rides in. I like my cheap plastic products that make my life so convenient. And yes, I like having a strong military.

Her: Im sure then China would be justified in invading USA in order to "protect its way of life" your reasoning is pretty flawed

Me: No, actually yours is. Luckily our military is a strong enough deterrent for China not to invade.The American government would do everything in it's power to prevent that from happening. Would that be wrong? What do you think we should do *Name*? Just go without petroleum to keep the left happy? What are the alternatives?

Her: I dont see what that has to do with FORGOING OIL COMPLETELY.You really are a stupid cunt you know that.

Her again: the point is that "protecting our interests" is pretty subjective and most nations can justify anything to "protect their interests" and just cuz you think its for freedom and your way of life the rest of the world might not think so. Heck most Germans thought lebensraum was great. Go Germany!

A new post was started, but the circle continued:

Her: Hitler had the right idea when he took over half of Europe to "protect Germany's interests"

Me: You're talking apples and oranges *Name*. While Hitler began his rule with Germany's best interests at heart, somewhere along the way some synapse in his brain snapped and he went for global domination and genocide. Not the same thing. So I ask you again. What is your solution? Forgo oil and all that it provides us? Does the US policy really equate in your mind to Nazi Germany?

Her: heh. forgo oil. I dont think thats the issue. I think you're happy about getting CHEAP Oil and living a cushy life at everyoen elses's expense. No wonder the rest of the world hates the USA.

Me: You'd be happier paying $7-10 for a gallon of gas?I noticed you didn't answer my question either.

Her: b/c the question was retarded. yes give up oil complately and go back to horse drawn carriages THAT is what I want.

It went on from there with her calling me "bitch," though that didn't offend me. Reading back through this I imagine that this girl is from another country (I'm guessing maybe Canada from her previous comment). I would have really liked to have had an intelligent discussion with her. I wonder if she realizes that resorting to name calling took away from the point she was trying to make. And no, I am not going to post a link to all this. The blog writer has gone on to other posts. The point of my post tonight is not the "war for oil" question at all. If you want to debate that, we'll start another post somewhere. My point is something I have been trying to teach my kids. When you resort to cursing and name calling, your argument loses all it's merit. She lost me at "fucking cunt."


Editor's Note: I edited my comments above for spelling errors, because well...I can. The comments above are not all inclusive. I left some out, such as comments of others and a couple that didn't really have anything to do with this subject. But hey, it's my blog, so sue me.


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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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